What is Yellow Fever?

This week we focus on the Yellow Fever Virus, what is it? What can you do to protect yourself?

Yellow Fever is a nasty virus that is present in sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Central America, the Caribbean and South America.  The Yellow Fever virus is transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito and cannot be passed person to person; it can only be passed via mosquito bites.  Yellow Fever has a short incubation period of just 3 - 6 days before symptoms begin to show.  Most cases of the disease are relatively mild, with the majority of people recovering within 3 to 4 days, however it does have the potential to be deadly.  The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 200,000 cases of the Yellow Fever every year, 30,000 of which are fatal.

Symptoms include:

-  A high temperature.

-  Nausea and vomiting.

-  Headache.

-  Muscle pain.

-  Loss of appetite.

-  Eyes feeling sensitive to light.

-  Excessive Tiredness.

In 15% of cases Yellow Fever develops into its most severe form with additional symptoms of Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, hence the name Yellow fever), bleeding of the eyes, nose and mouth, internal bleeding and in some cases multiple organ failure, which can in turn, lead to death.

Treatment of Yellow Fever is very much focused on managing the symptoms, there is no specific cure.  It is important to rest and keep well hydrated. Hospitalisation may be required, especially if the patient is struggling to keep liquids down.  Paracetamol can be taken to help reduce temperature and aches and pains, however certain anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen should be avoided. This is because they thin the blood which can increase the chance of bleeding in Yellow Fever cases. If you are showing any of these symptoms and may have been exposed then please seek medical attention.

Protecting yourself against Yellow Fever

There is a highly effective Yellow Fever vaccine available to prevent Yellow Fever and countries where it is present require you to have the vaccine at least 10 days before entry to the country.  This ensures that the vaccine is fully effective on your arrival and by ensuring everyone is vaccinated, it can help reduce the chance of outbreaks occurring.  The Yellow Fever vaccine comes with a proof of vaccination certificate which you should always carry with your passport when you travel.  The vaccination is valid for life.  Yellow Fever is a live vaccine so side effects are relatively common. These can include cold and flu-like symptoms and feeling generally unwell. Such side effects are more common in those over the age of 60.  To reduce the chance of side effects, it is important to take it easy the day of vaccination, and avoid both alcohol and exercise for that day. Children visiting Yellow Fever countries should also be vaccinated.  The vaccination can be given from the age of 9 months upwards.

Most NHS surgeries do not offer the Yellow Fever vaccine as you must be a registered Yellow Fever vaccination centre to administer it. All London Travel Clinic centres are registered Yellow Fever centre here in London and we provide Yellow Fever vaccination, including proof of Yellow Fever vaccination certificate, for £70.

As well as vaccination it is important to use a strong DEET based mosquito repellent, at all times when in a Yellow Fever zone. Mosquitoes often carry other diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya Fever, for which we have no vaccinations, so bite prevention is the only way to avoid these diseases.  Plus no vaccination is 100% effective so it is safest to use multiple methods of prevention. Hang a mosquito net over your bed at night and use a plug in mosquito repellent in your room to ensure you are as protected as possible.  We sell all of these products at reasonable prices in store here at London Travel Clinic.

Contact us now to book your Free Travel Health Consultation with one of our specialist nurses to discuss your trip. Advice is free, you only pay for the vaccines and travel medicines that you require to best protect you.

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